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The Smart Meter Roll Out

The “Smart Meter Roll-Out” is the government project that aims to install a total of 53 million Smart or Advanced Meters in 30 million homes and businesses between 2015 and 2020 and which is estimated to cost £10.9bn.

What is a Smart Meter?

Smart meters automatically pass accurate meter readings to energy suppliers as well as supporting new functions including enabling smart appliance operation. For domestic customers Smart Meters will be offered with an In-Home Display (IHD) linked to their smart meter, enabling householders to see what energy they use and how much it costs. This option will not be available for businesses due to logistical issues (not least where you’d put it in your business to make it an effective tool!).

As at December 2013 there were 900 full smart meters installed in business premises across the UK.

What is an Advanced Meter?

An Advanced Meter does exactly what a Smart Meter does but does not integrate with ‘smart’ appliances or IHDs. Instead its role is purely functional in that it is able to provide half-hourly electricity and hourly gas information that is remotely accessible by the supplier and to which the customer can have timely access.

At the end of September 2013, 508,500 Advanced Meters were installed in business premises across the UK.

What does the roll out mean for your business?

Businesses could choose to have an Advanced Meter installed in their premises at any point up to April 2016 without having to opt and wait for the higher specification Smart Meter.

Those businesses can benefit from the advantages of the core functionality of a smart meter (automated meter readings) much earlier.

In addition businesses can still choose to opt for an Advanced Meter instead of a Smart Meter at any point up until December 2020 (the planned end of the roll-out) as long as the contracts for doing so were in place before April 2016.

After December 2020 any new installation will need to opt for full Smart Meter specification. 

smart meter implementation programme decc Click to download official guide

How does the ‘Smart’ network concept fit together?

Subdividing the process into three segments provides an interconnected view as to how the ‘circle’ of the Smart Meter process will be completed.

The three 'segments' are:

  1. your business premise,
  2. the activities of the Data Communications Company and
  3. the DCC Service Users

1. Your Business Premises

→ Smart electricity meter / Smart Gas meter

→ Communications Hub

→  Home area network (HAN)

→ Wide area network  (WAN)

→ Data Communications Company (DCC)

Your business premises, housing the Advanced or Smart Meter, connects to your HAN or LAN (Local Area Network) which in turn links to the WAN and enables direct communication of your meters’ data with the DCC.

2. Data Communications Company (DCC)

→ Communication Service Providers (CSPs)

→ Data Service Provider (DSP)

→ DCC Service Users

The DCC, via the CSPs and DSP takes receipt of your meters’ data via the WAN and provides this to the DCC Service Users.

3. DCC Service Users

→ Energy Suppliers / Network Operators / Other authorised parties

→ Energy Settlement

→ Invoicing

→ Your Business Premise

The DCC Service Users, the energy suppliers and network operators, via the WAN, access the data and undertake both energy settlement and invoicing based on accurate readings and deliver the resultant invoice to your business premise.

The circle is complete.

Who are the key players?

As the process above shows, there are a significant number of players involved in ensuring the roll out works effectively, additionally some or all of these players are responsible for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the Smart Meter system.

The key players are:

  • You and your business premise
  • DECC
  • DCC
  • Communication Service Providers
  • Data Service Provider
  • Smart Energy Code Administrator and Secretariat
  • DCC Service Users
    • Your energy supplier
    • Your network operators
    • Any other parties you have authorised

The Data and Communications Company (DCC)

The Data and Communications Company (DCC) is responsible for linking the 53 million smart electricity and gas meters in homes and small businesses with the business systems of energy suppliers, network operators and energy service companies. 

Capita was awarded the 12 year licence to be the DCC by DECC in 2013 at an estimated value of £175 million. Capita created the business Smart DCC Ltd to fulfil this role. 

The Data Service Provider (DSP)

CGI has signed a contract with Smart DCC Ltd as the Data Service Provider. CGI will develop and operate the system controlling the movement of messages to and from smart meters. The estimated value of this contract over 8 years is approximately £75 million.

The Communications Service Providers (CSP)

Smart DCC Ltd has contracted with Arqiva Smart Metering Limited as Communications Service Provider for the north of England and Scotland and Telefónica UK Limited Midlands, East Anglia and Wales and South of England. Both contracts are for 15 years and worth £625m and £1.5 billion respectively.

The Smart Energy Code (SEC)

The Government has developed a new industry code, the Smart Energy Code (SEC). This is a multiparty agreement that sets out the contractual relationship between the DCC and the DCC Service Users.

The DCC, energy suppliers and network operators are required, by licence conditions, to become parties to the SEC and comply with its provisions. Other bodies that wish to use the DCC services, such as energy efficiency and energy service companies, must also comply with the SEC.

Gemserv Limited has signed a contract with the Smart Energy Code Company to develop and maintain the Smart Energy Code. The estimated value of this contract over 4 years is £10 million. 

When will you get your Smart Meter?

Unless you already have an Advanced Meter or are soon to get one, you can expect to have your Smart Meter installed at any point between 2015 and 2020. The official line from the government is that schedules will be “revised as lessons are learnt”. As a result it isn’t possible to forecast an accurate rollout timetable, so if you think your business would benefit from smart and advanced meter technology then the onus is on you to secure one via your energy contract.

Whilst the vacuum of information around the actual dates of deployment is frustrating there is more clarity on the milestones required to ensure rollout can commence on plan in September 2015, below we have put together a timetable of the key activities that are needed to fulfil the goals of the Smart Meter Roll Out.

Roll Out Timetable 

The Government expects that, by Autumn 2015, all major suppliers will be capable of installing smart meters, supported by DCC services, in order to hit that target a number of milestones need to be hit:

Note: dates reflect the anticipated completion dates of each activity

'Foundation Stage’: Completed
  • June 2013 – DECC: Regulatory procedures to protect consumers came into effect including installation Code of Practice.
  • June 2013 – DECC: Second version of the Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specification Development (SMETS) completed to EU requirements.
  • June 2013 – DECC: Central Delivery Body (CDB) established.
  • September 2013 – DECC: Smart Energy Code (SEC) established.
  • September 2013 – DECC: SEC panel established.
  • September 2013 – DECC: Smart Energy Code Administrator and Secretariat (SECAS) established, to be run by Gemserv.
  • September 2013 – DECC: Successful completion of the DCC licensing competition and procurement of the data and communications service providers awarded to Capita.
‘Foundation Stage’: Ongoing
  • June 2014 – DCC, DSP, CSP: Design and build of the DCC infrastructure.
  • September 2014 – DECC: Target completion of SMETS.
  • December 2014 – CDB: ‘Outreach’ and brand development to consumers.
  • March 2015 – DCC: Testing completion of the DCC infrastructure.
  • September 2015 – DECC: Ongoing SEC development
  • September 2015 – Energy Suppliers, Network Operators & Equipment manufacturers: Meter Design, Development and Testing

‘Main Installation Stage’

  • September 2015 – CDB: consumer awareness programme
  • Autumn 2015 – Energy Suppliers: Able to use the DCC’s shared infrastructure
  • September 2015 – Energy Suppliers, Network Operators: DCC initial live operations

‘Completion’

  • December 2020 – smart meter rollout to be completed

If 2020 is too long to wait for accurate meter reads and invoices from your energy supplier then you can take advantage of the benefits of Advanced Meters straight away. We work with a number of suppliers who based their supply proposition on Advanced Metering and others who offer such meters as an optional extra.

If you're interested in understanding more about a smart future for your business call us on 0800 051 5770, we would love to hear from you.